Guidelines

Ways in which you can help a sexual assault survivor

A sexual assault survivor in India is often dealing with the judgement of family and society, besides the trauma of the attack. Here’s how we can all be more empathetic and supportive.

Every time you hear about someone being molested or raped, it stirs your soul, shakes you up completely! They say everything is planned and written for us humans and that the hold of the almighty is stronger than that of the devil, then, I wonder why does it happen to anyone?

The world talks about woman dressing up provocatively but what harm has a 2 year or a 4-month-old done? What did the little boy know about good touch or bad touch when he was touched inappropriately or manhandled by someone?

I have come to understand (and partially agree) that this is a mental disorder fuelled by unfiltered and easy access to porn. The way women and men have been sometimes objectified as objects of lust and desire by movies and soap operas adds to the presence of such crimes.

The government has many so called ‘yojanas’ for the development of youth, development of villagers, farmers, women etc. However, has the government ever implemented a drive against these crimes? All that happens are candlelight marches, media protests, social media hashtags which come and go, but only a few in a 100 accused are penalised for their crimes.

What happens to the victims? Some are strong enough to stand up for what is right but most of them are compelled to hide behind a curtain of shame and guilt. The physical trauma continues along with emotional and mental trauma. The legal system and extended family are also not always helpful!

As a human, as a part of this society that is always judgmental, here is how you can do your bit to help sexual assault survivors.

Choose what you say – Empathy is good. You however, need to be careful with your words and what you say to them. Never question their decision to talk about it or stay quiet. Always offer your support.

Believe them openly and vocally – When you say you offer support and are there for them, make sure your words and actions describe it. If a sexual assault survivor knows they are being believed and they have support, its easier for them to heal.

React to their reactions – As much as it’s important to understand how they feel, its important to react based on their reactions. Sometime they may not welcome any unwanted attention or reactions.

Make them feel comfortable – This can be a tricky thing to do; however, make sure they are at ease and are comfortable whenever they want to talk about the incident.

Understand the legal and political procedures – Since you have decided to be an active part in their struggle, educate yourself about all procedures relevant to the situation.

It’s also important to correct others’ misconceptions around sexual assault survivors. You cannot shun everyone who talks loosely; however it’s necessary that people’s opinion changes and you portray a strong message of support and understanding. It’s also said that what goes around, comes around and that karma has its way. So continue being optimistic and work towards getting justice done.

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